The first Lockheed Martin C-130J “Samson” delivered to the Israeli air force (IAF) is already justifying the Biblical name attached to it.
The aircraft was delivered in April, and was subsequently modified to the special needs of the force.
The crews of the “Elephants” squadron at Nevatim air base have recently completed installation of some Israeli-developed systems on the aircraft. Most of these are classified, however.
There are currently four C-130Js on order for the IAF. The other three will be delivered toward the end of the year and in early 2015.
The IAF has issued a formal proposal for two additional aircraft, and sources say the contract is in the final stages of processing.
The cockpit of the IAF’s C-130Js have three seats – similar to the configuration used by US special forces. The aircraft were modified in the US for the installation of the Israeli systems.
The IAF currently operates 18 C-130E/Hs. In recent years the fleet underwent fatigue tests with the assistance of Lockheed Martin. The Es will be phased out, while the Hs are to receive structural treatment.